By Bibi Khatoon
Guyanese should be given oil blocks to begin exploration so that they build capacity to fully manage their own resources in two decades or less, according to Executive Secretary of the Guyana/Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Nuertey Adzeman.
He told the Guyanese press Wednesday that this can be one of the steps taken to build locals for the takeover of the oil and gas industry, which is currently being developed by mostly foreigners.
“You cannot rely on foreign companies for a lifetime,” Adzeman said.
Speaking with the media after signing a two-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Wednesday, Adzeman said given the cost associated, a group of Guyanese can come together and pursue this investment but they must also be given the requisite support.
“You need to start thinking of that –putting indigenous Guyanese together as we [Ghana] have done…a few who are pushing the Government [saying] ‘give us a block to go and explore, when we find something, everything remains in-house.’ Other than that, everything will be shipped out,” said Adzeman, who is also the Executive Director of the Ghana Oil and Gas Service Providers Association.
The Ghanaian national also pointed out that Ghana has already adopted this method and currently has a number of natives in the industry.
His suggestion was supported by President of the GCCI Nicholas Boyer, who noted that such an undertaking is more feasible in near and onshore exploration for the business sector.
“The complexity and the understanding of the engineering…in onshore to nearshore…doesn’t come with the risks that deep and ultra-deep offshore comes with,” the GCCI President noted.
According to Boyer, he has not yet heard of any such plans but this is associated with the ownership of lands in onshore exploration.
“To be fair to the regulators, what they said is that onshore regulation is a bit ticklish because you have persons who own the surface but the Government owns the minerals below. So trying to figure out how you’re going to allot those blocks…has to be figured out,” the GCCI President noted.
In November 2018, Head of the Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe said there was a pause on granting oil blocks offshore until 2020.
Dr Bynoe had also disclosed that the Department is looking for investors in shallow an onshore exploration.
Meanwhile, Loveland White, another member of the Guyana/Ghana Chamber of Commerce said that Guyanese pursuing oil exploration and production will develop local content.
“Local Content regulation goes beyond employing a number of Guyanese to work with operators.”
She said the local content policy and regulations should include a succession plan which affords Guyanese the opportunity to manage their own resources in the long term.
“There should be a succession plan to be able to handover to you fully in 20 years or ten years from now [so] you’ll be able to build that capacity to handle your own resources, that is local content,” White explained.
There has been much talk about a local content policy but the draft document is yet to be tabled in the National Assembly.
The Ghanaian officials hope with the signing of the MoU, they will be able to assist Guyana in putting systems in place to develop the local oil and gas industry.
The two sides will be sharing lessons learned in this field while increasing trade in other areas.
Wednesday’s MoU come on the heels of the visit in June by President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo.